International law firm Jones Day has published a white paper challenging the Clean Air Task Force’s (CATF) report released in February 2005 that concluded that diesel emissions will be responsible for 21,000 premature deaths in the U.S. annually by 2010.
The law firm’s white paper asserts that CATF’s conclusions on premature deaths related to diesel exhaust are based on old science and exaggerated calculations.
“We can also expect the CATF report to spawn new toxic tort litigation, with its claims of thousands of diesel-induced deaths each year,” stated the white paper.
Michael Gibson, partner in the Houston office of Jones Day and the author of the white paper, told Fleet Owner that very few lawsuits alleging that diesel emissions result in cancer or premature deaths ever make it to trial.
“There have been other lawsuits involving diesel exhaust and health effects. Some may claim they live near a railroad and it smells bad and that it’s too smoky,” Gibson said. “There had been several cases like that on the nuisance side. Alleging that it causes cancer is completely different, so it’s a small universe.
“But my focus is not just on lawsuits—it’s on government policy as well,” Gibson continued. “You see the EPA and CARB have made findings that diesel exhaust is a likely human carcinogen that causes cancer. I happen to think that those government decisions are wrong…we do know that small particle pollution does cause health problems but whether it causes cancer is a different issue.”
Although there are no signs of support for a mandatory diesel retrofit program in Congress since the CATF report, Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) proposed a $1 billion voluntary diesel engine retrofit program in the energy bill this week. That measure has gained bipartisan support, as well as the backing of both CATF and the Diesel Technology Forum.
“I would say CATF had a clean shot with the report-- no one opposed them,” Gibson said. “To my knowledge, besides a few comments from the Diesel Technology Forum, no one [had made a comprehensive argument] until I wrote this white paper. I think if someone makes such outrageous accusations they should be called to the carpet for it.
“It may be because there’s not sufficient threat that the CATF proposals will be adopted in the current political environment,” he continued. “At a minimum I hope the white paper will be sufficient to discourage federal and state governments from adopting any kind of mandatory retrofit requirement. There’s been a lot of good science but public policy hasn’t always necessarily reflected what good science would require.”
The white paper is available at www.jonesday.com.
To see the CATF report go to www.catf.us.